SEB Larsson will put his Arsenal allegiances to one side this weekend as he looks to bite the hand that once fed him.
The Swedish international was a Gunners fan as a boy and his affection for the club only grew further when Arsene Wenger brought him to London as a raw 16-year-old in 2001 for a three-year stay.
He happily admits that he still has a passion for Arsenal and a great respect for the club’s French manager but he insists he has absolutely no qualms about the prospect of potentially dumping the 15th-placed Londoners down to the very edge of the relegation zone.
“For this one game only, I will be more than happy to make that happen,” he said.
“I haven’t got a bad word to say about Arsene and I am still an Arsenal fan and want to see them do well but not when I play against them.
“They have made a disappointing start, like we have and the days when you talked about the ‘Big Four’ are over because now you also have Spurs and Manchester City.
“But on their day Arsenal can still play unbelievable football and beat anyone.
“So we just have to make sure we show our very best form on the day.”
Larsson – a Carling Cup hero for Birmingham earlier this year when Arsenal were beaten at Wembley – could have gone back to the Gunners this summer when he left Birmingham City on a Bosman but he let his head rule his heart when he opted to move to Sunderland for the prospect of regular first-team football.
Now all he is thinking about is helping get Sunderland up the table after returning on a high from international duty this wek – the Swede scoring in his country’s 3-2 win over Holland to book a place in the Euro 2012 finals.
The 26-year-old, who has already scored twice for his new club, said: “There was some interest from Arsenal in the close season, but I’d already made up my mind to come to Sunderland.
“It’s a decision I remain very happy with. Now we want to push on because, like Arsenal, we’re not satisfied with the start we’ve made either.
“There is a lot within our squad though, so I am hopeful about what lies ahead. We know it’s a big challenge for us this weekend.
“If Arsenal put on a performance this Sunday, we will be in for a hell of a tough day.
“But we will go down there, like we did to Liverpool on the opening day of the season, looking to get something out it.